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Questions and Answers-

Living With IVDD
Roger and I have been in the show world for a very long time, we have had standard poodles, English toy terriers and little lion dogs to name a few.After the latest dog passed away at 16 we decided it was time to return to the show world,  we looked around and fell in love with the Coton De Tulear breed, we met a few at the shows and got acquainted with the breed. We did everything you would have expected us to do, went to the home of the breeder, who appeared to be reputable and saw them with their mom, they looked happy and healthy.

We went through the normal puppy stage with them, but had noticed that occasionally either one or the other would stop and stare at us and not move, it was odd and my instincts did kick in but the vets could find nothing wrong. As time went on it happened more often and they would freeze (never at the same time) we put it down to the fact they run and jump around like mad when playing and maybe pulled something. Oscar in particular ran really fast and Bailey was a proper dancing dog (as described in all the books) he used to greet you on his back legs almost doing a high five.

Over the next couple of years more of these incidents started to happen, on separate occasions Oscar and Bailey would start to walk a bit tense or not want to move forward and not able to jump up. We did see the vet each time but they could not find anything wrong with them, the treatment was Gabapentin, Paracetamol and crate rest for both and each time they did appear to recover after a rest.

Suddenly one Day Oscar wouldn't or could'nt walk and backed off at the sight of the dog leash. I knew something was really wrong as he lives for his walks, so we took him to the vetsand again prescribed Gabapentin and Paracetamol then sent us home. I was not really happy as I felt something was really wrong with him.  

On that night all of a sudden Oscar let out a scream of pain like a baby screaming, once you have heard that scream you will never forget it...he had run off and hidden and peeing all over the place and was not able to bear us touching him!   We called the vet immediately and Oscar was referred to the Willows Hospital in Shirley/Solihull, he was immediately examined and taken for an MRI scan and they contacted us during the scan while he was asleep to tell us he had a slipped disc just at the top part of his back, we had tomake a quick response, choose between surgery or PTS, we were devastated.

We chose the surgery as we were lucky enough to be insured and as he was only 4 it was right to do it.  

Oscar was given a good chance of recovery because of the time scale of getting him into the Willows Hospital but treatment is lengthy and you have to change your whole way of living with them for months. He came out with 15 staples down his back and had to have total rest. We cordoned off a space in the middle of the living room so he could not move much but it also meant he was not isolated from us and his brother as he was also very down.  

We had puppy pads everywhere and we carried him out to pee and poo as he clearly did not want to do it in the house bless him! They need the smells from the grass to help them pee. We slept downstairs with him and gave him daily physio along with his tablets and pain killers, he started to make progress which gave us hope.   

In the meantime we transferred both dogs to the Willows as now we had no confidence in our original vet.  

Three Months later Bailey started showing signs of being tense and in pain, he would stare into the back of your eyes and you would not be able to nudge him forward, we knew it was really the start of it all over again, we took him in and again the first step is Gabapentin and Pain killers, the vet had said that even if this is the same as Oscar there would be nothing we can do to stop that disc dropping he just has to rest!

Three days later on Christmas Eve wewere all together in the living room Bailey got up and turned around and it happened again, that piercing  familiar scream it scared him so much he shot behind the sofa and hid whilst peeing everywhere, he was really quiet but couldn't stand on his back legs at all, he was completely paralyzed.We managed to rush him to the VETs andwhen we got there the vets saidBaileys chances were 10% to be able to walk again but to have a scan to be sure.When the Vet called he said he had never seen one as bad as this and his spine was badly bruised from previous scaring, he would need the same operation as Oscarbut Baileys chances of walking again were down to 10% he had also lost all functions so we would have to learn to express his Pee for him until he could do this himself, this was going to take months, he would not be able to control Poo either for a while. 

It was the saddest Christmas ever! And now we were in for another lengthy recovery alongside Oscars.  

Oscar is now 12 months on and Bailey 9 months they are both walking now, but we do have set backs, we are now living with the very real threat of 50-50 chances of it happening again.The process is long and hard and at times you wander if you are doing the right thing but they are only 5 now so they were far too young to give up on them. I thought I would mention the Kennel club insurance here, they are not the cheapest but they have been fantastic at paying on time and taking the worry out of everything.   Our house is now a special needs dog house, we have foam and blankets everywhere between the doors, over steps, we have sample carpets covering all the steps up the garden, and we get nervous when they are playing and meeting other dogs.  

It has been great being part of the Coton De Tulears of the UK Club, it has enabled Roger and I share our story and make the breeders aware, I have had messages of support from people all over the UK which have kept me going. I have been inspired to create my own business www.auroara.co.uk selling soft fleece harnesses as they are so gentle on my dogs backs, all my friends have bought them now too.  

I understand that an IVDD test was not available 5 years ago in the UK so this would not have been picked up and do not blame anyone for that, I would like to say a massive thank you to the breeders that have embraced the new IVVD test and who are taking this very seriously, this has filled me with comfort knowing that they are reducing the risk of this happening to anyone else.  

I have contacted the breeders of Oscar and Bailey as there were 3 other puppies that have gone to pet homes, I wanted those people to be warned, I don't think has happened,  I also know that the Dam has not been used since their litter, however the Sire has been used up until last year and I have requested that the owner do the test on the sire just to be on the safe side but this has not been forthcoming so far.

Both Oscar and Bailey have sadly gone over the rainbow bridge they were only 6 years old, to ALL you breeders out there please please take the test and be sure not to let this happen to anyone else.
How do I get a dog to swallow a pill?
To get your dog to swallow a pill you have to be inventive, this tip has been the most affective for my dogs as they have been recovering from back surgery.
First, get some soft cream cheese that you would not normally give your dog, like Philadelphia, put some on a spoon, dab a small amount on the dogs mouth or nose just to see them acquire a taste for the cheese, after that keep dipping in and giving a taste not too much though!
Eventually encase the pill in the cheese making sure you cover it so the dog can’t feel the pill, then dip with no pill after a couple of times to help it go down.
This cheese must not be part of your dog’s normal diet.
Always check with your vet first before you try this tip, especially if your dog suffers from any level of lactose intolerance, then cream cheese should remain off limits for them.

What is the purpose of a dog harness?
Neck and trachea injuries might occur if a dog is constantly yanking, pulling or fighting the leash. Unlike a lead attached to the collar at the neck, a lead attached to a traditional body harness connects to a hook on the dog's back. A dog harness can be used on small and large dogs.
How are back problems diagnosed in dogs?
Examination by your veterinarian will include a complete neurologic exam, which will help identify where in the spinal cord the injury is located. Plain X-rays may show an abnormal area in the spine.
However, because the spinal cord does not appear on X-rays, special imaging may be necessary to locate the source of the injury. One such procedure, called a myelogram, injects a special dye into the spine, which surrounds the spinal cord and allows it to appear on X-rays. This test requires the animal to be put under anesthesia.
In some cases, further testing such as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography) scan can also be used to locate where the nerves are being pinched, which is necessary for surgical repair.
What causes IVDD in dogs?
Causes of IVDD in Dogs In Type I, common in the neck region of smaller breeds, discs develop a hardening (or calcification) of the outer layer. This damages the disc, allowing it to break down easier. Any forceful impact such as jumping and landing can cause one or more disc(s) to burst and the inner material to press on the spinal cord.

With Type II herniation, the discs become hardened and fibrous over a long period of time and eventually break down, bulge out, and compress the spinal cord. When the nerves of the spinal cord are compressed, the nerve impulses are not able to transmit their signals to the final destination in the limbs, bladder, etc.

If the damage is severe enough, paralysis and loss of bladder and bowel control can occur. Depending on the location of the disc that is bulging, signs occur anywhere in the body from the neck to the rear legs.
What are the symptoms of IVDD in dogs?
Symptoms and Types
IVDD in dogs is made up of a gelatinous substance surrounded by a thick outer layer, intervertebral discs are basically the shock absorbers of the spine. There are two types of disc herniation seen in dogs: Type I and Type II, of which Type II generally has less severe signs and symptoms. 
Symptoms of IVDD in dogs may include: 
  • Unwillingness to jump
  • Pain and weakness in rear legs (lameness)
  • Crying out in pain
  • Anxious behavior
  • Muscle spasms over back or neck
  • Hunched back or neck with tense muscles
  • Reduced appetite and activity level
  • Loss of bladder and/or bowel control (urinary and fecal incontinence, respectively)
What is IVDD in dogs?
Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is a condition where the cushioning discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column either bulge or burst (herniate) into the spinal cord space. These discs then press on the nerves running through the spinal cord causing pain, nerve damage, and even paralysis. Breeds of dog that are predisposed to IVDD include the Dachshund, Beagle, Basset Hound, and Shih Tzu.
What are the symptoms associated with allergies in dogs?
In the dog, the most common symptom associated with allergies is itching of the skin, either localized (in one area) or generalized (all over the body). In some cases, the symptoms involve the respiratory system, with coughing, sneezing, and/or wheezing. Sometimes, there may be runny discharge from eyes or nose.
Some dogs can scratch or chew themselves so much they can have open sores and hair loss from it.
If your dog is showing any of the above signs tke your pet to see the vet.
What causes tear stains on dogs?
Short-nosed dog breeds, such as Shih-tzu, Pekingese, Maltese, Pugs along with white dogs, are prone to excessive tearing because they often have shallow eye sockets or hair growth in skin folds around the eyes that cause problems. Also, cocker spaniels and poodles are more likely than other breeds to have blocked tear ducts.
Can I use my shampoo on my dog?
The first rule of dog bathing is not to use a human shampoo. The pH of dog skin is very different to that of human skin. ... Shampoos formulated for humans are much more acidic than those for dogs, and using a human shampoo can upset the balance of a dog's skin.
A lot of people are not aware that some dog shampoos should be watered down so please make sue you read the labels before you use any shampoo.
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